The grace of God is greater than the universe.
Planet Earth is not just a tiny dot in the universe. Increasingly, astronomers are concluding that the entire universe appears “designed” for the sake of human life on Earth.
As of 2006, scientists observed 824 fine-tuned features of the universe that make life possible for humans here on earth. If only one were missing, human life on earth would be impossible. That number of observed fine-tuned features is increasing every year.
At one point, scientists calculated that the odds of any single planet in the universe possessing all these necessary conditions to support human life is less than one in 1,000,000,000,000,000, 000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000, 000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000, 000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 (10+173 zeroes).
Growing numbers of researchers—most of them not Christians—are mystified and amazed that the entire universe almost seems to have “known” that human beings were coming.
In short, 21st century scientists are discovering what the Bible told us more than three thousand years ago—God takes thought of us, He creates us a little lower than Himself and crowns us with glory and majesty to rule over the works of His hands (see Psalm 8). The whole universe cries out the obvious—that God has a special place for this tiny blue dot called “Planet Earth.”
God did not do this because he felt “lonely”. Before He created the universe, He was doing just fine without us. He did it completely out of His unfathomable love.
How have we humans responded to this display of His love? At best, we have treated Him in the same way that red ants treat us. We note Him only when He seems to “invade our space,” and then we lash out at Him as if He were our worst enemy. Or we try to pacify Him with the bare minimum in religious rituals. Even most church people do not have a true day-by-day relationship with God.
Yet this continuing indifference and hostility to God, millennium after millennium, has not deterred God from loving us, lavishing abundance upon us of every kind. He has even seen fit to enter this loveless world and give His life for the sake of loveless people who slander, underestimate and degrade Him at every turn. He knew that we would treat Him like this, but He created us and entered into our humanity to save us just the same.
God was under no obligation to create the universe or human beings in His image. We have failed so miserably to represent His image, that He has every right to wipe us all out with no comment or explanation.
But the Bible tells us that God still loves us. He still plans to prepare us deluded beings for a New Creation beyond earthly description. That plan began even before Jesus Christ stepped into this world to rescue us from our indifference and sin to make us a new and chosen generation.
God didn’t have to do any of this, but He did it anyway. This is what the Bible calls “grace”—grace greater than our sin, grace greater than the universe. We should be thankful beyond words that He has given us this chance we never earned or deserved—thankful enough to tell others about it.
Astronomy and astrophysics over the last few hundred years has shown us that life on Earth is anything but special. We are made up of four of the five most common elements in the universe, including hydrogen, nitrogen, carbon, and oxygen. Helium obviously being excluded because it’s an inert gas. We have also found that most stars have their own system of planets, many of them under the conditions to potentially support life. So before you go making numbers up like you did at the top, (which i’m sure many people will be repeating as fact, clearly having no idea what they are talking about), do some actual research.
Thank you for your comments concerning the figure we used in the article you saw online. My research assistant and staff writer, Robert Martin, will answer your letter further.
Blessings, Valson Abraham.
The figure to which you refer comes from the first edition of a book written by Dr. Hugh Ross, “Why the Universe Is the Way It Is,” published in 2008. The premise of the book is that conditions for life on earth are so unique as to render Planet Earth an unrepeatable phenomenon in the universe.
In saying this, he (and we) are all quite aware of your point that astronomy and astrophysics in the past few hundred years have indicated a seeming insignificance to Planet Earth. Dr. Ross contends in this book along with others that more recent research is forcing us to re-evaluate that conclusion.
In science, no conclusion from the past is set in cement, no matter how long it has been around. The universe is immense, our knowledge is finite, and new discoveries force us to re-adjust our conclusions. If our conclusions are set in cement, it isn’t science, but ideology. This is as true in astronomy and astrophysics as in any other scientific endeavor.
Dr. Hugh Ross has his PhD in astronomy from the University of Toronto, was a post-doctoral fellow at Cal Tech in Pasadena, CA, and has devoted himself to the study of astronomy and astrophysics since he was a child. He is quite capable of contributing to the research data himself and doing the mathematics involved, and he is not alone in his conclusions. Although astrophysics is his specialty, anything scientific is of interest to him. Hugh Ross is also a Christian and has studied the relationship between science and theology for decades. In his books, he relates findings of astronomy and other sciences to their significance for Christian faith and philosophy. He has debated skeptics over these issues many times.
Before writing to you, I contacted Dr. Ross’ office to find out if the figures in our article still hold, and I was told they are already out-of-date because things are changing so quickly in these studies. Actually, it turns out, the figure in our article is extremely conservative. Their office clarified that the book is now in a revised third edition, and continuing studies indicate the probability of finding another life-supportable body in outer space–for high tech-humans–is less than one in 101050 (See page 123, table 8.4).
You have said, “We have found that most stars have their own system of planets, many of them under the conditions to potentially support life.” Dr. Ross and the other scientists he documents in his bibliography contend just the opposite—that all the planets thus far found outside our solar system do not come near to meeting the conditions to support life as we know it here. So many fine-tuned conditions—all of them–would have to be met for life to take place as we know it that the probability becomes less and less as we discover more of these conditions. Popular media tend to concentrate upon only a few of these conditions while ignoring (or being ignorant) of most of the others.
In short, Planet Earth really does seem to be in a highly unique situation.
If you want to know the specific basis for these incredible figures–what scientific literature and data he and his team have consulted and compiled to come up with the statistics in “Why the Universe Is the Way It Is”–I refer you to the following website: http://www.reasons.org/links/hugh/research-notes. The reference material is simply too much to list here. Just click “Part 1,” “Part 2,” etc. and you will get detailed PDFs of all the presently known fine-tuning characteristics plus the bibliography of articles from scientific journals and books that come out of this research. There are literally hundreds of references for each of the four parts—1,575 in all. Most of them are sources that are not specifically Christian.
I have heard Dr. Ross speak many times. I have heard him repeatedly say that what is actually happening in the world of astronomy research today is much different than what is presented in the popular culture and media. The media, with its secular mindset, tend to ignore those things that go against the grain of their own worldview.
In other words, while we at our office are not able to do the research ourselves on the science involved in the article you read, we depended upon the research of a man and his co-workers who have literally pored their lives into this. As the above-mentioned bibliography indicates, they are not alone in their conclusions. We have merely used a small portion of their extensive work as an illustration for our article on the grace of God. In the printed material where the article originally appeared, we simply did not have the room to explain all of this. Your argument is really with them and not with us.
If you still have questions and objections about these matters, please feel free to contact Dr. Ross and his associates at Reasons to Believe, by getting contact information at http://www.reasons.org. I contacted them with my own inquiry at firstname.lastname@example.org. Their purpose is to deal with questions and objections such as yours, and you will be referred to someone with scientific background. You may even get Dr. Ross himself. You won’t be troubling them in the least.
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